*Young Ruelli and young Ethan met.*
The boy grasped his sword threateningly, as if he was about to draw it. Ruelli was terribly perplexed, but kept her lips tight so as not to show herself being afraid.
‘Calm yourself, Ruelli.’
She quieted her troubled mind and studied the boy carefully.
‘What does he mean it’s his land?’
There was no way a young master from a prestigious family would climb a mountain alone. Moreover, despite his dignified attire, it was completely strange for him to be out here by himself.
Like Ruelli, the boy seemed to have climbed the mountain alone.
However, even though he was in a similar position to her, he was dressed in a very luxurious uniform. He might not be the master of Nordard, but it was clear that he was a son of a different status than Ruelli.
“Which family are you from? Why are you alone in the mountains?”
The boy asked coldly again before putting an end to his speculation.
“If you don’t answer now. ….”
“I am Liote Lacinth.”
Ruelli slightly bent her knees and bowed respectfully. She didn’t know who the boy was, but from his arrogant tone and appearance, it seemed certain that he was a nobleman.
However, she decided to hide her name. It was unfair to reveal her identity on her own when the other person did not reveal his identity.
And it wasn’t someone she would see again.
“Are you alone?”
The boy asked again, not taking his eyes off Ruelli.
“Nordard is private property of the Bertrand family. You may hunt, but you may not leave signs.”
He took out the yellow and white ribbon he was holding in his other hand, waving it back at Ruelli coldly.
“It was all your doing, wasn’t it?”
“I marked it to get home, it didn’t mean anything else. If I’d known, I wouldn’t have done it.”
Ruelli hid the woven straw basket behind her.
Ruelli’s words gave the boy a little more trust.
As he looked at her, Ruelli was just a child and didn’t seem to have impure intentions, and it didn’t seem like she was lying. He casually looked around the area, but didn’t see any traces of other people.
However, she was too young to go up the mountain by herself. Moreover, she was probably not armed.
The back of her hands was cracked from the cold, and from the look of it, he could guess Ruelli’s identity.
Ruelli’s muddy skirt and blackened fingertips made him frown, but upon closer inspection, her face was as neat as a bud.
She had milk-white skin and unusual blond hair, and her two eyes, which stared without averting their gaze, were red, like the setting sun.
Ethan couldn’t take off his gaze away from the red eyes. Perhaps if Ruelli was dressed in a fancier outfit, she might look like a noble young lady.
He was suddenly curious about the intentions of the girl who had climbed the mountain and even left the landmarks. He also wanted to know what was in the basket she had hidden behind her earlier.
But what piqued Ethan’s curiosity more than anything else was the unknown scent that had been stimulating him from the moment he came across the girl.
It was a fresh and mysterious scent, faintly wafting like a mist.
“What’s that in the basket?”
Ruelli tightened her hand in fear of losing what was in the basket. She didn’t know about other things, but she could never give up the herbs.
But unfortunately, the more she hid it the more it irritated Ethan.
Ethan said calmly, waving the colorful ribbons in his hand.
“You may have done something terrible on my land, and I have to check.”
“I don’t know who owns this land, but the lord has allowed the Lorek citizens to enter and hunt in Nordord. That means they can also gather whatever they find. I am not obligated to show you what I collected. You’re not the lord, are you?”
Ruelli responded sternly that made Ethan speechless.
“I don’t know what to call you because you won’t tell me who you are.”
Just then, the sound of footsteps came from the distance, mixed with a low, rough voice.
When I turned my head toward the voice, I saw men with red, burning faces running toward him, parting the bushes.
“Oh My God! Young master.”
Ethan had a stern look on his face, as if their reaction had nothing to do with him. On the other hand, Ruelli’s words made his face red earlier.
“Are you alright?”
O’Connell knelt in front of the young master and held his head as if he was about to sob.
“It’s easy to get lost in the mountains and hunters are everywhere. What if you suddenly disappear!”
Ethan, offended by O’Connell’s words, replied without looking at him.
“Are you blaming me now?”
“Oh, no. I’m not. If you go alone in this deep mountain….”
“Do I look like a young man who can be easily threatened by hunters to you?”
O’Connell’s face turned pale. Ruelli, who was watching the scene, felt the tension.
“It takes a lot of blood to tame this sword.”
Finally, Ruelli’s gaze reached the pattern engraved on the collar of the boy’s uniform.
It was an elaborate pattern carved in golden threads.
She suddenly realized that the white-tailed eagle was the crest of the Bertrand family that ruled Lorek.
‘Oh my God.’
She couldn’t say anything at the new realization and swallowed inside, but she couldn’t hide her expression. Ruelli, who soon turned red all the way to the tip of her forehead, bent her knees toward Ethan.
“I’m sorry, sir. This girl was foolish and didn’t recognize the young master and made a mistake.”
Only then did O’Connell notice the shaggy looking girl in a corner. He felt mildly relieved that she was not a threat to Ethan.
O’Connell bent down and asked the girl.
“Who are you and where do you live?”
“I live in a stone tower near the border.”
“A stone tower?”
O’Connell smiled faintly as if he remembered something.
“Oh, so you’re Fadenos’ daughter.”
“Yes, that’s right.”
“But, why did you come up here? It’s very dangerous for a child to come here alone.”
“I’m not a child. I’m twelve years old.”
O’Connell chuckled softly at Ruelli’s words.
“You’re just the right size for a leopard to eat in one bite. Now, I’ll get someone to help you home, and you can get down now, little one.”
O’Connell asked one of the knights standing by to escort Ruelli down the mountain. Ruelli hesitated as if there was something left to say, but soon nodded toward Ethan and followed the knight down the mountain path.
She thought about how she gave Ethan her fake name and she hoped that he wouldn’t mind it. Because they were not going to see each other again anyway.
Nonetheless, Ruelli was very concerned about the fact that she had not revealed her name to Ethan.
‘Why didn’t he say who he was in the beginning? How would I know if he didn’t say anything?’
Ruelli kicked one of the stones on the path, and the regret somehow overwhelmed her.
‘Well, he did tell me it was his land but I didn’t believe it. What am I going to do?’
Thinking she would never see the boy again anyway, no matter who he was, Ruelli felt a little relieved.
There were rumors about Ethan Seymour Bertrand.
He was the sole heir to the Bertrand family for generations, and a perfect nobleman in all respects.
However, he was extremely reluctant to associate with people and seemed to prefer to be alone. He was a perfectionist whose even his parents found it difficult to deal with his arrogance and his tediousness.
Ruelli shuddered as Ethan’s gaze came to mind as he observed her with an expressionless face earlier.
‘It was wrong of me to deceive him about my name, but perhaps it was for the best.’
When the sight of Ruelli disappeared and the sound of her footsteps faded, Ethan asked O’Connell.
“Do you know her?”
“Yes, I know of the child living in the stone tower as the abbot told me about this child a few times. But It was the first time I’ve seen her face.”
“I heard about it the other day when the abbot visited the monastery to discuss the donation. He told me that one of the neighborhood children had borrowed all the books in the monastery and read them.”
“Yes, even medical books are hard for adults to read.”
Ethan recalled the girl’s hair so bright that it could lighten the darkness. He could somewhat tell that she was an intelligent girl by the way she answered without delay with a perceptive face.
O’Connell tilted his head, wondering why the young master’s expression had softened.
”What’s wrong, young master?”
Ethan rarely asked questions or talked. O’Connell added excitedly as he saw Ethan seemed to be interested in the girl.
“Should I find out more about her?”
Contrary to his answer, Ethan was actually wondering what it was that the girl had hidden in a haste behind her back.
It wasn’t like he would come over and take it out of her hands.
However, she was a girl who read all the books in the monastery, was very interested in medicine, and climbed mountains alone.
Ethan suddenly thought that he should have threatened her with his sword and looked inside the basket.
But he didn’t want O’Connell to look into the girl any farther, because he didn’t know if he would see her again.